Every last Friday of the month
On April 26 at 5:30 p.m., you may see more bikes than usual riding down your street. Don’t be surprised — Critical Mass is back in the city of Davis.
Critical Mass is a worldwide bicycling event that takes place on the last Friday of every month and has been dormant in Davis for the past year due to a lack of participation.
The event is a way for cycling enthusiasts to advocate for bicycle transportation in major cities around the world. Often, Critical Mass is used to protest for better rights for bicyclists.
Lucas Hill, a second-year sustainable agriculture major, is hoping to bring it back. Hill said he thinks that the event should be popular in an area with so many bikes.
“People in Davis don’t think that Critical Mass is necessary, but because Davis is so bike-friendly, we should be out celebrating it,” Hill said.
Hill said he heard about Critical Mass events in other areas and thought that it was something that should have a following in Davis.
“We just need to get enough bodies there,” he said. “A good reason to be here is to hang out together and have fun.”
Boogabaah Weesnaah, the last advocate of Critical Mass in Davis, isn’t so sure that Hill will be able to revive it.
“Critical Mass is dead in Davis. I’m assuming it’s because there is no need to advocate for bicycle transportation in this town,” Weesnaah said. “Everyone already rides their bikes everywhere.”
Weesnaah said she joined Critical Mass just as it was dying out in Davis, and despite her best efforts, she couldn’t bring it back.
“For a year I’d go sit at the meeting place and wait for a good hour. Usually no one showed up, or if anyone did, there were so few of us it was pointless,” she said.
In other cities where it has more of a presence, Critical Mass has proven unpopular among pedestrians, drivers and law enforcement. In San Diego, the event attracts between 200 and 500 riders monthly, enough to cause a traffic jam on major streets.
“The riders also don’t always respect the rules of the road,” said Chris Zaleski, a second-year hydrology major, of Critical Mass events he has attended in San Diego. “They often run red lights and ignore traffic signals. Hopefully riders in Davis will be more aware.”
Hill, however, thinks that the event will “do more good than it can ever do harm.”
Rheanna Chen, a third-year international agricultural development major, plans to ride in the event on Friday. She said she’s excited to be a part of a global movement that advocates for bicycling as part of sustainable development — something the city of Davis is known for.
“I look forward to a time when the car usage in large cities decreases and there’s a conscientious investment in better public transport,” Chen said.
She also thinks that possible traffic complaints could result in positive effects.
“Complaints put pressure on political leaders to do something, to change the current way we do things and do it better,” Chen said.
Critical Mass will meet in Central Park every last Friday of the month at 5:30 p.m.
TAYLOR CUNNINGHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.